While hospitals and doctors across the country say many patients are still shunning their services out of fear of contagion — especially with new cases spiking — Americans who lost their jobs or have a significant drop in income during the pandemic are now citing costs as the overriding reason they do not seek the health care they need.
“We are seeing the financial pressure hit,” said Dr. Bijoy Telivala, a cancer specialist in Jacksonville, Fla. “This is a real worry,” he added, explaining that people are weighing putting food on the table against their need for care. “You don’t want a 5-year-old going hungry.”
Among those delaying care, he said, was a patient with metastatic cancer who was laid off while undergoing chemotherapy. He plans to stop treatments while he sorts out what to do when his health insurance coverage ends in a month.
The twin risks in this crisis — potential infection and the cost of medical care — have become daunting realities for the millions of workers who were furloughed, laid off or caught in the economic downturn.